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MatthewB comments on Are wireheads happy? - Less Wrong

109 Post author: Yvain 01 January 2010 04:41PM

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Comment author: MatthewB 02 January 2010 03:12:56PM 7 points [-]

I will need to go back through this again, but as a DD person, I know that my ability to motivate myself to learn new things was astronomical compared to after I destroyed most of the dopaminergic systems in my head with Drug Abuse.

The largest area I have noticed is in painting and sculpting. Two areas where I used to spend inordinate amounts of time practicing/doing. I used to have the vast majority of my work-spaces covered with miniatures and sculptures that I was working on. Now... I have a hard time getting motivated to just get them out (which is I think most of the problem).

I do know that it is possible for me to mechanically activate the motivation to perform these tasks (and I am on medication that is supposed to help, but I get the feeling it isn't), just like the rats were lacking motivation to eat when their "wanting" circuits were knocked out.

Thanks for the article. I will need to dig through some posts on another forum where I recently posted a link to a paper about modifying the brains of people with obsessive-compulsions (Drug Addicts mostly) who were able to knock out the wanting to do drugs part of their brain... I'll post the title and a link as soon as I can find the name of it. It talks about some of the same things (I think it is a U of Mich. study as well)

Comment author: spamham 02 January 2010 09:11:27PM 1 point [-]

Sorry to hear about the drug problems, but how can you be sure they "destroyed" your dopamine neurons? Not all drugs that increase these neurons' activity kill them. Psychological changes might be a simpler explanation IMHO (but I don't know you, so that might be far off the mark).

[...] knock out the wanting to do drugs part of their brain...

Sounds draconian. That part isn't just there for drugs...

Comment author: MatthewB 02 January 2010 09:36:46PM *  4 points [-]

I don't think that they destroyed the Dopamine neurons, just destroyed their ability to function properly. From the various scans that have been done of my brain; not only do I have a decreased production of Dopamine, but I have an increase in the number of receptor sites (I cannot recall from which area they sampled ). Thus, I have a major portion of dopamine sites that are demanding dopamine, and a shortage of dopamine to go around to satisfy the demand. I've been in so many MRI and NMR machines that I no longer even get claustrophobic.

As for the studies about creating lesions on the brain (knocking out the part of their brain that demands to do drugs)... Obviously it isn't there to want to do drugs.

It is there because it controls various aspects of our survival drives, yet they have been hijacked and malfunction due to the use/abuse (differentiation between the two) of various chemicals. The study is about the human trials of a procedure that was first done on rats and monkeys (Macaques I think) where they ablated a portion of the Amygdala and Thalamus (I cannot recall how they located it, as it was in the days before high resolution ƒMRI or NMRi), and the Rats and Monkeys went from being junkies (with either single or poly-substance dependence) to being relatively normal rats and monkeys. In the human trials, they found the same things as in the rat/monkey study, but with changes in some other behaviors in some of the participants (altered motivational drives, for instance). I know that one of the doctors is hoping to begin using this method on Sexual Predators, and also hopes to create a chemical method for altering the location of the brain that is ablated or abraided.

Anyway, I have made it through about six months of posts, and I am pretty sure that it was this year that I posted the link (in another forum... I could have sworn that I bookmarked it as well, but that might have been on my old laptop - I have a new laptop that was for "Christmas" even though I got it in November)

edit: found it:

The Neurosurgical Treatment of Addiction

Comment author: loqi 02 January 2010 11:55:32PM 1 point [-]

From the various scans that have been done of my brain; not only do I have a decreased production of Dopamine, but I have an increase in the number of receptor sites (I cannot recall from which area they sampled ). Thus, I have a major portion of dopamine sites that are demanding dopamine, and a shortage of dopamine to go around to satisfy the demand.

If you're comfortable sharing, what drugs led to this? Cocaine? Amphetamine? Did alcohol tend to be involved?

Comment author: MatthewB 03 January 2010 07:01:22AM 10 points [-]

Mostly it was Heroin, but there was a modest amount of Amphetamine usage involved as well (for completely patriotic reasons as well - /rolls eyes), and Cocaine became a problem for a few years, but strangely, I just stopped doing it one day like I would decide to throw out an old pair of underwear.

No alcohol was involved, which was mostly how I managed to get my brain into so many ƒMRI tunnels. I have never had any impairment from alcohol use, nor any dysfunction usage or abuse of alcohol either. Then, when several doctors found out about my anomalous cessation of cocaine, I got even more attention. That attention helped to free me from Heroin without the usual entanglement with a 12-step group or AA/NA (which at this point in time I have rather low opinions of).

I often wonder if I would still be alive if I hadn't started using these drugs though (which is contrary to what most people expect to hear). They do give a person a certain cognitive augmentation for each different drug, each of which can be highly useful depending upon the situation. I happened to be in a situation, during the 80s where amphetamines were indicated. I began to use the heroin because the amphetamines made me a little too shaky, and I liked the calm that the two drugs together gave me when having to do things... eventually though, all hell broke loose when I was no longer in that environment and still had the drug use (which rapidly turned into abuse). Fortunately, I am still alive and past that (well, the drug part of it. My brain still has some getting adjusted to life to do).

Comment author: Kevin 03 January 2010 11:01:17AM 0 points [-]

Is the current medication you refer to an anti-depressant? Does it do anything for you at all?

Comment author: MatthewB 03 January 2010 12:20:10PM 1 point [-]

Ugh.. I just made a huge post addressing an issue that I realized was not the one to which you are probably referring.

I don't think I referred to any current medications in the prior post. I made a reference to the use of the drugs I began to abuse, and how these allowed me to live through situations which would probably have resulted in a poor outcome otherwise (not that I could qualify the outcome as good either, save for the fact that I am alive instead of dead)...

Are you referring to the beginning of the third paragraph???

I often wonder if I would still be alive...

Comment author: spamham 03 January 2010 01:52:53PM 1 point [-]

Kevin means this I suppose?

I do know that it is possible for me to mechanically activate the motivation to perform these tasks (and I am on medication that is supposed to help, but I get the feeling it isn't)

Comment author: MatthewB 03 January 2010 03:06:22PM 2 points [-]

Ah... That... Yes... from the previous post...

I am referring mostly to anti-depressants and Drugs to control ADD, which ironically, are very much like Amphetamines (Provigil, Adderall or Ritalin, probably Provigil or Ritalin). I did a two weeks on Provigil, and I will be doing 2 weeks on Ritalin to compare the two. It is unlikely that my Dr would prescribe Adderall, but she said it isn't totally out of the question depending upon how I respond to the others (and the fact that I haven't shown any signs that I would be likely to abuse it at this point).

The current medications I am on work to a degree. I can tell when I am off my anti-depressants, for instance, yet my anti-anxiety drugs do absolutely nothing.

The drugs to control ADD are kinda a fudge by the Dr. as I have not been diagnosed explicitly as having ADD (it is something that she suspects, yet for which I haven't displayed many of the more common symptoms. If my mother had not been a Christian Scientist when I was a kid, we might have clinical records that could help out in this case a bit more), yet she feels that they will help out with some of the motivational and concentration problems I have been having with school (and life).

Comment author: Kevin 04 January 2010 06:01:17AM 1 point [-]

Yes, thank you.